Rolf Harris’ portrait of the Queen disappears
After the BBC commissioned Rolf Harris to paint a portrait of the Queen in 2005, the Corporation showed a special episode of Rolf On Art featuring the Australian artist and entertainer working on it.
On his official website, Harris enthusiastically recounts the experience of painting Her Majesty:
“There we were – the Queen and I, chatting away like old mates… On her way out of the second sitting she told me ‘It’s a very friendly painting,’ which I took as a compliment… I wanted to capture the lady herself and her warm personality rather than do a formal portrait, full of pomp and splendour, and I think I’ve achieved that”.
The painting, which took about 2 months to complete, was unveiled at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in November 2006 and after then being loaned to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, it was moved to the Queen’s Gallery in August 2012. Now, however, it appears The Royal Collection have washed their hands of it in the wake of the presenter being charged with nine counts of alleged indecent assault in the 1980s and four counts alleging production of indecent child images in 2012. Their spokesman commented:
“We don’t have it and it’s gone back to the BBC. The portrait was not gifted to the Queen and was only ever given to us on loan so we could display it in the Queen’s Gallery”.
“There was a great deal of public interest surrounding the BBC programme about the portrait and it was for this reason that we decided to display it in our gallery. The portrait was, to our understanding, commissioned and dealt with by the BBC”.
The BBC, however, plainly don’t want association with the artwork either. For them, a spokesperson added:
“We don’t have it any more and we don’t know where it is now… We never owned the artwork. If the piece is not with us or the Palace, it must be in Mr Harris’ personal collection”.
The fall from grace of Harris, who continues to refer to himself as “officer and a gentleman” on his official website, has been swift. Readers need not be reminded that he was one of the main comperes at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in June 2012.
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The astonishing thing is how this tedious Aussie managed to ingratiate himself with the “Royalty”.
One of my most hideous sins as a young man was indirectly introducing Savile to Lady Thatcher.
I was a junior staffer at CCO, having coffee on my own, in a smart Harrogate conference hotel, when Savile came over and asked if he could join me. In no time at all he found out Mrs T was upstairs and suggested he should meet her. This, to my eternal regret I did, by asking my boss to ‘fix it’…..